Winter in Trondheim, by tradition, begins with a very modest amount of snow (if any at all) in early December. But, when the snow picks up closer to Christmas, it gets very comfortable and usually won’t leave until May! Thus, a portable SOTA trip by foot was planned out a few weeks ago for the 11th of December. However, a recent generous bout snowfall made changes in these plans and skis became the obvious choice to carry out this QSO adventure.
We planned to meet at our clubhouse at 10:00 to get everything packed quickly, as sunset was predicted around 15:00. Our trusted unlicensed operator Alexander was the only one on time, perhaps punctuality should have been added to the license exams of us heavy sleepers. A change of plans also made the 5 participants become 6, and the need for another car suddenly caused some more “minor” delay. After getting the equipment into our bags we were all ready to go, leaving for the summit at 12:15. The trip was still on!
…or so we thought! The Opel we had picked up at the last second decided to have engine troubles at the freeway ramp, several kilometers until the next exit. Lucky for us we were able to drive half the speed limit until civilization was reached. We thought this was the nail in the coffin for this trip, being as late as we were already. But, by reading the car booklet it mentioned that turning the engine on and off again could solve the problem, which actually worked. The car from 2006 must have been close to a malfunctioning computer, but we were finally on our way again.
The Volvo had been waiting at the parking lot for a while when the Opel arrived, and its passengers were eager to finally get moving. No wonder, as we discovered the temperature out in Melhus had dipped to -19 degrees Celsius! It didn’t take long before the steep uphill slopes made us regain our heat, more or less too hot at some point. We didn’t see many other skiers out this day, probably due to the temperature, but we had a nice trip gliding in the slopes regardless.
The summit was located close to the slopes as well, so we didn’t have to go far in the deep snow before we found a nice spot within the SOTA rules to set up camp. We brought our FT-891 with HeathKit tuner for use on the 40m vertical antenna, with a Spiderbeam pole. Unfortunately we had forgotten ropes for the pole, but the solution to lean it towards a nearby tree worked out just as well. Ambitiously, we also brought the FT-857D with a LDG auto-tuner for a 20m shack, using a vertical antenna hoisted up in a tree. Prior to leaving, we had also checked the minimum operational temperature for all the electronics we brought. Nothing was certified for anything below -10, so with this in mind, we decided to bring everything along regardless.
The sun was setting just as we got both shacks up and running, so the activity on the 20m band dropped quite quick. Fortunately the 40m worked great and we got many 59 reports from distant European countries like Italy and Spain. We eventually got a pileup, this was probably due to three of our participants getting spotted on the SOTAwatch website. In the end, it turned out the only electronics having issues with the cold was our phones when trying to take pictures. Despite the pileup, once the licensed operators had gotten their minimum required QSOs for the activation, we were already halfway done packing everything down. Nothing brings speed like being cold and yearning to get the blood flowing again!
On the way back, steep uphills had become steep downhills. We headed home in a record pace, looking forward to the warmth in the drive back. As luck would have it though, this time the Volvo broke down. The “turning it off and on again” trick didn’t even work! It turned out however the Opel had more seats in the trunk, and after preparing the car for the tow truck, moving all the luggage over, and a bit of swearing, we were finally on our way home. Perhaps if we’d went ahead with only the Volvo as planned, we may all have been stuck out in the middle of nowhere this Sunday night!
In the end, another summit activated! As usual, nothing goes according to plan, but in the LA1K spirit, we somehow made it work regardless. SOTA trips are also a great way to see the otherwise minor and neglected nature attractions in your local proximity. To actually see it though, make sure to not wear glasses that get foggy. 73 from Alexander, LB1HH, LB5DH, LB5PI, LB6GH and LB8LI!